School culture is critical not language

THERE is talk that English-medium schools should be brought back to raise the standard of education and particularly of the English language.

That by simply bringing back these schools would produce students like the schools of the 50's and 60's did is a fallacy, a perception.

I wonder how many of those wishing for the re-introduction of English-medium schools have a first-hand knowledge of what those schools were like? Or are their wishes based on just looking across the causeway and comparing the English-medium schools there with our sekolah kebangsaan?

What makes a school good is not really the medium of instruction.

Education is a journey, like going from point A to point B hundreds of kilometres away.

One can go by bus, by car, by train, by flight, even cycle or walk.

If one takes a car, it depends on the condition of the car, not its brand. Even a small, old car that is well maintained and driven by a competent driver, could take you there safely.

On the other hand, an expensive big-name car that is poorly maintained and driven by a reckless driver could break down or crash and leave you stranded on the highway.

Similarly, even a sekolah kebangsaan that is well managed, that is headed by a master teacher, that maintains strict discipline, that has dedicated, well-rounded teachers who are competent in their respective fields, could teach both Bahasa and English producing very good results in both, provided politics and religion are kept out of education.

Those who are calling for the re-introduction of English-medium schools are wrong if they think these schools will automatically produce results similar to the English-medium schools of the 50's and 60's.

This will not happen unless the new English-medium schools are "mirror images" of the culture, competency, dedication, discipline of the English-medium schools of the 50's and 60's.

Without all these qualities that made the English-medium schools of the 50's and 60's the choice of most parents, the new-generation English-medium schools, even with all the technology and whatnot, will not compare with those of the 50's and 60's. And then what?

Education is not for politicians to play poker with, and also not for religionists to change the character and mission of the schools to suit their own agendas.

Ravinder Singh
Penang